As the pollen count increases and as the summer storms roll in, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is reminding people to have their thunderstorm asthma plan ready.
“October to December is thunderstorm asthma season and right now parts of the country are at high risk,” says Acting RACGP President, Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda, adding “there is no time to lose”.
“Those at increased risk of thunderstorm asthma are thought to be people with a history of asthma, undiagnosed asthma, seasonal allergic rhinitis, as well as people with rye grass or pollen allergy.”
He cautions that no prior history of thunderstorm asthma doesn’t meant “that you are out of the woods”.
“People with allergic rhinitis who have never experienced asthma before can experience bronchospasm during certain thunderstorms.
“So, please take this seriously because thunderstorm asthma can strike without warning.”
The best way to put together an action plan is to consult your GP, according to Associate Professor Shenouda.
“There is no need to panic but it is vital to consult with your GP on how best to manage your condition if you are a person at increased risk of thunderstorm asthma.
“Talk to your GP about … developing an asthma action plan. All of those steps can make all the difference, so please reach out … do not delay.”
How thunderstorm asthma occurs
Thunderstorm asthma is caused by large amounts of whole pollen grains being pulled up into the clouds of an evolving thunderstorm.
Small pollen allergen particles are then released into the air in the cold dry outflows from the storm and arrive at ground level where they are breathed into people’s lungs.
For more information about thunderstorm asthma, visit: racgp.org.au/FSDEDEV/media/documents/Running%20a%20practice/Support%20and%20tools/Factsheet-Thunderstorm-Asthma.pdf